Ratcliffe Duce & Gammer

Affordable EVs

As electric cars proliferate, they are increasingly accessible to ordinary drivers. But many are still priced out of the market, with high up-front costs keeping them away from low- and middle-income families. And the savings from avoiding gasoline are often offset by higher energy rates, higher maintenance expenses and other factors.

That’s one reason some experts believe EVs will need to cost less than comparable gas-powered models to break into the mainstream and spur mass adoption. But so far, only a few manufacturers have managed to get the job done.

The Nissan Leaf has been on the market for a few years and now offers a range of features that makes it more appealing to consumers than ever. Meanwhile, the Hyundai Kona, a small all-electric SUV, is now available with an EPA-estimated range of 258 miles, and it can be had for under $45,000. And that’s just the beginning, with more affordable options on the horizon.

Some analysts have even spotted the possibility of Chinese brands bringing inexpensive, well-equipped EVs to the US in the near future. That’s a prospect that’s giving Detroit auto executives sleepless nights, with the most notable threat coming from BYD Co.’s angular Seagull hatchback, which sports a two-tone dashboard shaped like a seagull’s wing and has six airbags. The company hopes to sell 200,000 of the cars in 2025, with each going for about $23,000.

To help readers narrow their search for the most Affordable EVs, I’ve assembled this list of vehicles that meet several criteria, including final assembly in North America and a base price of $50k or less. I’ve also excluded incentives and tax rebates, which will vary by state. I’ve also included a table that lets shoppers compare the prices of each vehicle with the average car-buying budget to help them find the right fit.

While the prices listed here reflect the most up-to-date figures on a given model, shoppers should be aware that pricing can change with new models entering the market or with changing government subsidies. In addition, I’ve assumed that buyers will plug in their cars to a Level 3 charger or higher at home on a regular basis.

A key consideration is an EV’s efficiency, which is measured in kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, similar to a gas car’s mileage rating. The more efficient an EV is, the more money drivers will save over time.

To find an EV that fits your driving habits and lifestyle, consider using this online calculator from the Department of Energy to factor in up-front costs, regional electricity costs, charging habits, fueling and maintenance fees, and more to see how much you’ll save over the course of a typical seven-year ownership period. To further simplify things, the calculator allows you to exclude optional items that might increase your up-front costs but may not be used regularly. For example, larger wheels may add to the initial purchase price but could reduce an EV’s efficiency or cause the tires to wear out more quickly.